This Japanese-style Shiso Garlic Pasta takes a fresh spin on the beloved Italian pasta dish! Here, al-dente spaghetti noodles are tossed in a garlic-and-chili-infused olive oil and shiso leaves, giving it a little special touch. Super easy, utterly delicious and ready in 15 minutes!
It’s not hard to love the classic Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino. Made with plenty of olive oil, garlic, and red chili pepper, the dish is unbelievably simple yet so good. Today I want to share the Japanese take on this classic pasta with the use of a Japanese herb – shiso leaves, instead of Italian parsley.
This Shiso Garlic Pasta (青じそペペロンチーノ) is already a common dish in Japan, but not so much outside of the country. It is similarly quick, easy, and delicious. With a surprising flavor, there’s really no excuse not to try it!
What is Shiso (Leaves)?
First thing first, let’s talk about Shiso (紫蘇, しそ). It’s a leafy herb commonly used in Japanese cooking, equivalent to parsley or basil type of herbs in western cuisine.
The leaves are roughly palm-size (it varies – I’ve seen bigger ones in Japan). It has the most amazing fragrance and refreshing taste.
A lot of Just One Cookbook readers, who do not have access to the Japanese markets, long for this herb and raise their own shiso plants with the seeds. You can buy the shiso seeds from the Japanese seeding company Kitazawa Seed online if you’re interested in growing them in your backyard.
Concept of Japanese-Style Pasta Dishes
The core beauty of the original Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is all about simplicity, and I love that the Japanese version captures the same essence.
Like the other Japanese-style pasta dishes (Wafu Pasta), they are intended to innovate without over complicating. Take an example, a splash of soy sauce and a mix of Japanese mushrooms are all you need to make this savory, creamy bacon pasta.
In this recipe, the simple use of shiso leaves is enough to highlight the unique flavor of Japanese cuisine.
How to Make Shiso Garlic Pasta
This recipe is super simple; it’s almost impossible to mess it up!
- Cook garlic and dried red chili in the olive oil to infuse the flavor.
- Add cooked pasta.
- Add shiso leaves and toss everything together.
Simple Pasta, Big Flavors
When you’re looking for a quick weeknight dinner that sustains and comforts, this Shiso Garlic Pasta certainly lives it up. Enjoy as the pasta as is or serve with a side of salad for a meatless dinner.
Feeling extra hungry? Serve it with a side of salmon or meatballs to add some bulk.
The simple flavor makes for a pasta that tastes deeply satisfying, and this is a meal you’ll turn to again and again.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Shiso Garlic Pasta
- 1 Tbsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt) (for cooking pasta)
- 7 oz spaghetti
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 dried red chili pepper
- 15-20 leaves shiso leaves (perilla/ooba)
- 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- 2 Tbsp reserved pasta water
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Cook Spaghetti
- Start boiling 4 quarts (16 cups, 3.8 L) water in a large pot (I used a 4.5 QT Dutch oven). Once boiling, add salt and spaghetti.
- Stir to make sure spaghetti doesn’t stick to each other. Tip: I usually reduce the cooking time by 1 minute if I have to continue cooking the pasta afterward. Drain if you finish cooking the spaghetti first, but you should be able to cook the rest of the ingredients in 10 minutes while spaghetti is being cooked.
To Prepare Ingredients
- While cooking pasta, we prepare the ingredients. Peel the garlic cloves and thinly slice them.
- Cut off the end of the dried red chili pepper and discard the seeds. If you like the dish to be spicy, you can add some seeds. I usually remove most of the seeds. Cut the chili into small pieces.
- Wash the shiso leaves (or another herb you may use) and dry them completely with a paper towel or kitchen towel. Cut off the stem and roll them up.
- Cut into thinly slices (chiffonade) and then mince them.
To Cook Shiso Garlic Pasta
- With 5 minutes left until the spaghetti is ready, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Before the oil gets hot, add in the garlic to start infusing. Make sure to coat the garlic with oil.
- When the garlic is sizzling and well-coated with oil, add the red chili pepper and salt. Shake the pan and make sure the oil is infused with garlic and pepper.
- When the spaghetti is done cooking, pick up the noodles with a pair of tongs (or you can quickly drain in the sink) and add to the pan.
- Reserve 2 Tbsp of pasta water and add to the pan.
- Add the chopped shiso leaves (or the herb you choose) and season the spaghetti with freshly ground pepper. Taste and season with salt if needed. The reserved pasta water I added has enough salt so I do not add additional salt here.
- Toss the spaghetti with a pair of tongs to mix all together and serve. Enjoy!